Living with a roommate who was most likely a stranger when you started the school year can be one of the toughest parts of university. Everyone who has ever lived with a university roommate has experienced this. Luckily, you can now draw from the experience of college students who have gone before by being prepared to deal with these six types of university roommates:
1. The Partier
This is the roommate who never seems to do any school work because he or she is always out partying. It doesn’t have to be the weekend or even Thirsty Thursday for him to be having a party, either. This roommate is likely to leave your room smelling like alcohol and will probably be known for stumbling into your room drunk at all hours of the night.
Cope with a partying roommate by politely asking that he keep the alcohol outside the room, which can at least reduce the clutter and the smell. Also, don’t fall into being the one who goes to pick up your roommate when he’s had a few too many, and invest in some good ear plugs so you can sleep through the racket he makes while sneaking in at three in the morning.
2. The Neat Freak
This roommate has a place for everything and everything has a place. She is likely to bring a level when she hangs up posters and photos on her side of the room, to do laundry every other day, and to clean the entire room on the weekends. Living with a neat freak can be stressful because you may feel like you’re never clean enough. If your roommate’s neatness extends to your side of the room, you might even come home to find that your own things have been put away or straightened up also.
If having the room cleaned for you doesn’t bother you, then you can just let this go. But if you don’t want the neat freak to mess with your things, say so. With a roommate like this, it’s a good idea to have a clear division of space so that your roommate can be as neat as she wants in her own area. Also, try to be respectful by containing your stuff and, especially, by not letting it spill over into your roommate’s area.
3. The Dependent
This is the roommate who never really cut the cord from their mom and who still needs someone to take care of them. Whether they ask you to help with laundry, pick them up after a party, or even to remind them of important appointments, they seem to be unable to tackle responsibilities on their own. These roommates can be particularly frustrating because they’re often just childlike enough to make you feel guilty if you aren’t helping to take care of them.
Deal with the dependent by refusing to take responsibility for him. If you’re feeling particularly generous, you could help this roommate set up a calendar or learn to program appointments into his phone. Just remind yourself that it isn’t your responsibility to care for another adult human being who just happens to be your roommate.
4. The Romantic
This roommate can land you in some sticky situations. If you’re lucky, your always-in-a-relationship roommate will date someone with a nicer room or a bigger bed, and you’ll essentially have the room to yourself. If you’re not so lucky, your roommate will constantly bring his or her romantic interests back to your room, which will either drive you out of your own room or leave you to be the awkward third wheel in your roommate’s romantic trysts.
With roommates who are constantly in a relationship, it’s particularly important to set boundaries. Make it clear that you aren’t okay with being exiled from your room so that your roommate can carry out romantic exploits. If your roommate continues to put you in awkward situations, talk to your resident director or advisor to set about a solution.
5. The BFF
Many colleges have the roommate matching process down to an art and end up giving you a roommate whose interests so match your own that you are instant best friends. If you’re lucky enough to end up with a roommate like this, still be sure to set some boundaries. Otherwise, your close relationship can deteriorate due to minor annoyances, and what could be a fantastic roommate relationship could dissolve into a war of attrition.
Even if you and your roommate seem to have very similar interests and expectations when you first meet, take some time to set boundaries. Leave the lines of communication open so that you can respectfully talk about problems as they arise, dealing with things right away rather than letting them fester and become big issues. Constant communication can keep your relationship with this roommate great.
6. The Slob
You’ll know this roommate on move-in day. She’ll probably come in loaded down with way too much stuff for your room, and she won’t even bother to hang up her clothes in the closet. Over time, this roommate’s habits of leaving junk everywhere, failing to do dishes, and never cleaning your shared bathroom can be incredibly frustrating.
Again, expectations and boundaries are important here. Even if you can’t train your roommate to be a little neater and cleaner, you can at least keep the mess confined to a portion of your room. However, if your roommate’s mess becomes dirty, smelly, moldy, or just plain gross, you may need to create a cleaning schedule and, as a last resort, go to your resident advisor to see if he or she can help with the situation.
Preparing for a Roommate
Although preparing for classes is probably foremost in your mind, you should also prepare for a roommate. Here are some ways to do it:
Fill out the questionnaire.
Most universities these days offer a roommate questionnaire that you can fill out in order to be matched up with a roommate who has similar studying and sleeping habits as well as similar interests to yours. Fill out this questionnaire honestly to have a better chance of being matched with a compatible roommate.
Contact your roommate ahead of time.
If possible, get into contact with your roommate before you go to college, since you might be able to coordinate some of your room-related purchases ahead of time and start getting to know one another before you meet on move-in day.
Stock up on necessary items for your room.
What you need for your dorm room will depend on your personality, your roommate, and what your school already supplies. At the least, you’ll need bed linens and towels, and maybe a bookshelf or two. If paying tuition has left you flat out of cash, check out college student credit card reviews to find a card that will allow you to pay for these necessary purchases over time. You may even be able to get some good rewards as you buy items for your room.
One Washington Post blog suggests having an honest conversation with your roommate as soon as possible about what you both expect and how you can meet each other’s expectations. This may mean that you need to study in the library early in the morning if you’re rooming with someone who likes to sleep in, but with a little compromise, you can normally learn to live together.
Know your options.
f your roommate doesn’t seem to be working out in the first few weeks of school, know what you can do about it. You may be able to get third party mediation to help you compromise and create a harmonious roommate relationship. If nothing else works, your college may allow you to move in with a different roommate, though this can be a complicated and drawn-out process. Knowing what options your university offers to deal with a bad roommate relationship can help you decide what to do next.